Should you breathe through your mouth or through your nose when you sing? Great question! The answer is BOTH! Nose breaths are superior, but they're often too slow for quick phrases. Mouth breaths can be drying, but are capable of being taken in more quickly. So, the ideal inhalation will involve both your nose and your mouth simultaneously. We exhale through both our nose and mouth when we sing. So, it makes sense to prepare the inhale breath this way. On occasion, interludes in songs give you the time to take a nice calming breath through the nose. But, typically we don't have that kind of time. This makes the Nose + Mouth Breath the winning combo!
Now more than ever, Vocal Styles are being MERGED. You hear a Legit Soprano singing over distorted Rock. You go see a Broadway Musical and hear Hip Hop music. You listen to a Pop song and hear undercurrents of Reggaeton. This is all the more reason to explore multiple styles of music in your vocal training and practice! It's time to stop thinking of yourself as just ONE kind of singer. Usually when we ask people what kind of music they like, they will answer "I like pretty much everything". So, when you ask yourself "what do I sing?", you can answer "I sing pretty much everything." While it's always good to specialize in genre or two, be aware of the ways musical genres continue to intermingle. Not only is all this MERGING an exciting trend - it's also an amazing encouragement for your EMERGING vocal capabilities!
Adjusting your Larynx position can be quite jarring to the soul! It sometimes feels like you aren't yourself anymore. Or, that your voice isn't YOUR voice anymore. If you're having trouble accessing new skills or stepping outside your comfort zone, then embrace the RIDICULOUS by imitating character voices! Need a higher Larynx? Sing like a cartoon baby, a tiny mouse, or someone on fast forward mode. Need a lower Larynx? Pretend you're a giant, a sad or dopey character, someone moving in slow motion, or even Darth Vader. Embracing the silly and the comical gives you the security to explore the extremes of your vocal abilities and discover new vocal abilities that you never knew you had! LUKE... I AM YOUR LARYNX…
Are you LISTENING to yourself when you sing? If so, then STOP! "Wait. What?!" Yes. It's true! You can't LISTEN to yourself and sing well at the same time. This doesn't mean to sing off-key or to throw pitch and musicality out the window. It means that listening to ourselves puts us in a physical and mental state that isn't conducive to our best sounds. Physically - the body and breath lock up when we listen really hard. Mentally - we get into a judgmental, critical, and analytical mindset when we listening really hard to ourselves. Singers who listen too hard to themselves often sound contrived, planned, and stiff. Instead of listening - try trusting your ears. Your audience will do the listening! You can do the TRUSTING!
Have you ever wanted be the INVENTOR of your own original Riffs? A great way to start creating Riffs is to become aware of their specific components. Start by listening to as many great Riffs as possible. Observe the rhythm, the amount of notes, the melodic contour, the vowels and words used, the vocal register, and the stylistic nuances. Write out a list of these items. Then, challenge yourself to design at least 5 unique Riffs using these elements. You might write out the rhythm, vowels, and notes before you sing. Or, you might experiment with your voice to find the exact elements you desire. Either way, you'll soon find yourself becoming the inventor of all kinds of Riffs that you can truly own and call your OWN.
In the female voice, there is a major Passaggio (or transition) that occurs between D5-G5. Males sing these notes less often, but will also will notice the same phenomenon these pitches. At this part of the voice, singers usually benefit from a slight opening of the mouth if they are seeking a stronger sound. This opening aids the strength of First Formant (F1) resonance. Either a slight jaw opening or a small widening of the lips typically helps this resonance to intensify. In general, we don't want to open up the mouth or spread the lips to sing higher notes. Instead, we should learn to sing them with a neutral mouth first. But, if you're seeking more power through this particular Passaggio, try letting Acoustics work for you!
Can GOOD posture be the enemy of free and easy singing? Well, sometimes yes. Beautiful, tall posture is obviously fantastic for the voice. Yet, sometimes sitting or even slouching can be surprisingly helpful in unlocking new levels of freedom. Our postural muscles help us stand and walk upright. These include the Sternocleidomastoid, trapezius, lumbars, hip adductors, and hip extensors. These muscles are in continuous use to some degree and have a tendency to become too tight. Nobody ever complains that their lower back is too loose, do they? So, when you're feeling locked vocally, try a different stance. Lean on a doorway, sit down, lay down, or just lean to the left or right. The redistribution in tension could unlock your next vocal breakthrough!
Don't know much about HISTORY? Well, there's no time like the present! Think of one artist who inspires you. Have you ever researched an artist who inspired THEM? Or, maybe even researched the artists who inspired THAT artist? It could go on and on. However, there's tremendous value in seeking out this type of musical history. This discipline reveals a wealth of artists, songs, styles, and information that can be used to enrich your vocal and musical life! Go to the library or go online and start investigating. Find interviews of artists you admire. Read biographies, autobiographies, or books on fascinating music history topics. Listen to recordings from a specific year or decade. If you take this journey to the past, you'll become an artist brimming with appreciation, nuance, depth, and soul! And who knows? You might even make history YOURSELF!
We all have days when we don't feel 100%, but we still go to work and get things done. The voice is exactly the same. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, it just doesn't feel at its best. Does that mean we should hide away and make no sound? Not at all! Professional performers sing through allergies, colds, and plain old bad days all the time. The secret is recognizing the limits of your voice while maintaining healthy technique when something feels a little different. Perhaps that high note just isn't going to sound as clear as usual. Maybe a long sustained note won't make it quite as far. That's okay! A day where you're not at 100% is an opportunity to bring your vocal technique to 200%!
What do you do when it's time to sing your awesomest HIGH NOTES? Do you close your eyes? Do you stare straight ahead like a deer in the headlights? Do you have a ZOMBIE-like out-of-body experience? It's important that in performance we drop any EYE habits that we may have developed during practice. When we listen and focus too hard, our eyes freeze up and we lose our stage presence. For the audience, this is like watching a singer take a BREAK. Momentarily, the singer is thinking about something else that the audience is not a part of. The performance only continues after the high and difficult part of song is over. When a High Note is approaching, stay connected to your audience and your message. Don't place your High Notes in the back of your mind. Place them in the hearts and SOULS of your listeners.
Do you ever listen to other singers and say to yourself "I DON'T sound like that" or "I WON'T be that good" or "I CAN'T sing"? It's important to remember that the artists you admire had to start somewhere. A great singing voice isn't something people are born with. Every singer at a certain point in their life makes an inner decision of "I CAN sing". This decision translates into a variety of action steps. Practicing every day. Studying with a Voice Teacher. Listening to new artists and analyzing their work. Seizing opportunities to perform. Making a full commitment to vocal excellence. These actions steps are what truly make singers great. But, the hardest part is making that inner decision. Some people make it at an early age. Some make it later in life. But, the truth is, if you believe you CAN… you WILL.
If you take an audition workshop or ask people for audition tips, you're almost guaranteed to hear contradicting advice. "Always introduce yourself" - "Never introduce yourself". "Look at the people at the table" - "Never look at the people at the table". But, one piece of advice you that always remains constant is - "Be respectful to everyone in the room". From the monitor, to the accompanist, to the casting team, to the reader. Even to the other artists you are up against. Everyone is there to do their job and be a professional. So, this is your chance to be the kind of person that everyone wants to work with. You may not do everything perfectly in your audition, but by consistently being a respectful and courteous professional, you can never go wrong!
What makes a singer succeed in the Music Industry? Those with the greatest longevity and prowess generally share THREE qualities - Humility, Hard Work, and Generosity. Pro-level singers are typically HUMBLE because they do not feel the need to try to impress others. Rather, they relish the work that they do with great passion! Singers with music industry success are HARD WORKING, knowing that there is always room to improve and to challenge themselves. Lastly, top singers have a GENEROUS spirit and seek to inspire many people through their work. Strive for Humility, Hard-Work, and Generosity at any level of your vocal journey! The rewards will last you a lifetime!
Have you ever tried singing a song you learned many years ago? It's no easy task! Why? Because the muscle memory of how your first sang the song will still be there - even though your technique has grown. The good news is that there are strategies for "relearning" old songs and making them new. Try starting with the last page and practice the phrases in backwards order. Or, try singing the notes without any words or reciting the words without notes. Experiment singing in a silly "character voice" or two before returning to normal. Sing the song in a few different keys or in a few different tempos. However you choose to dust off the vocal cobwebs, you can find success in RE-discovering a new "old favorite"!
When acting a song, remember to SAY your words! This may sound silly or obvious, but try speaking the lyrics of a song you love to sing and you'll quickly notice how unnatural some of the speech patterns become. Every word is part of a sentence, even though this is always obvious in the rhythms of a song. That's why it can be easy to neglect these inflections and phrasings when we're caught up in a soaring melody or a fun groove. As you work through a new song, practice SPEAKING the lyrics. Really make sure that the meaning of your sentence remains honest even as you return to the rhythm of the song. Follow the WORDS to your destiny of beautifully acted songs!